The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Ratzinger

(San Francisco: Ignatius, 2000/2018), 271

Fr. Dailey recommended this to me and I was reintroduced to it when finishing the History of the Catholic Church. Reading Ratzinger is always a special experience—he blends together all of scripture and salvation history into a beautiful narrative, and every word drips with a lifetime of thought behind it. This is a book to think about (before mass certainly) and come back to.

Part I: The Essence of the Liturgy

Chapter 1 - Liturgy and Life: The Place of the Liturgy in Reality

  • liturgy as play: it helps us rediscover true childhood (28)
  • Exodus (32)
    • liturgy gives an all-embracing rule of law and life
    • worship, law, and ethics are inseparable
    • when there is no recognition of God, there is a belittling of men
  • only when our relationship with God is right can our relationships with others be right (35)
  • there is no society entirely lacking in cult (35)

Chapter 2 - Liturgy—Cosmos—History

  • sacrifice is at the heart of worship (41)
  • worship is bound up with the three dimensions of circular movement: personal, social, universal (44)

Chapter 3 - From Old Testament to New: The Fundamental Form of the Christian Liturgy—Its Determination by Biblical Faith

  • Israel's liturgy is special because:
    • directed toward God
    • Old and New are bound together especially through liturgy: (Christ as first-born points to Exodus passover)
  • real worship is the self-offering of the Son (58)
  • "The Eucharist is the meeting point of all the lines that lead from the Old Covenant, indeed, from the whole of man's religious history. Here at last is right worship, ever longed for and yet surpassing our powers: adoration in 'spirit and truth'" (61)

Part II: Time and Space in the Liturgy

Chapter 1 - The Relationship of the Liturgy to Time and Space: Some Preliminary Questions

  • the Lord has gone before us, he has already done what we have to do (73)

Chapter 2 - Sacred Places—The Significance of the Church Building

  • the empty Holy of Holies had already been an expression of hope (80)
  • Ratzinger cites Liturgy and Architecture by Louis Bouyer (ND Press)
  • Christians look toward the east: the cosmos speaks of Christ (and we should pray toward the east) (82)
  • the altar fulfills what the Temple foreshadowed, and the Gospels fulfill the Torah (84-85)

Chapter 3 - The Altar and the Direction of Liturgical Prayer

  • the martyrs continue Christ's self-oblation; they are like the Church's living altar (90)
  • notes on the anomaly of St. Peter's facing west instead of east (91+)
  • last supper: participants really were on the same side of the table (like this picture (92)
  • the Eucharist is not just a "meal" as modern clericalism would suggest (93-94)
  • Renewal: "We cannot simply replicate the past. Every age must discover and express the essence of the liturgy anew." (95)

Chapter 4 - The Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament

  • "Communion only reaches its true depths when it is supported and surrounded by adoration." (104)

Chapter 5 - Sacred Time

  • Christ is the bridge between time and eternity (106)
  • time is a cosmic reality (107)
  • "Deliverance from death is at the same time deliverance from the captivity of individualism, from the prison of self, from the incapacity to love and make a gift of oneself." (116)

Part III: Art and Liturgy

Chapter 1 - The Question of Images

  • All sacred images are in a certain sense images of the Resurrection, history read in the light of the Resurrection" (132)
  • "The image of the shepherd thus sums up the whole of salvation history: God's entry into history, the Incarnation, the pursuit of the lost sheep, and the homeward path into the Church of the Jews and Gentiles." (133)
  • an icon requires a "fast from the eyes" and a new way of seeing; icons come from and lead to prayer (135)
  • "God seeks us where we are, not so that we stay there, but so that we may come to be where he is." (137)
  • a history of Christian art from the Gothic, to Renaissance, to Baroque, to Enlightenment, to today (138-144)
  • summary: 145+
    1. absence of images is incompatible with faith in the Incarnation of God; images of beauty are essential to Christian worship
    2. sacred art finds its subjects in the images of salvation history
    3. images display the inner unity of God's action
    4. images of Christ and the saints are not photographs, but at the service of liturgy
    5. understanding of history of images as normative for the Church

Chapter 2 - Music and Liturgy

  • Psalms as the proper source; the whole of human life is reflected there (153)
  • Gregorian chant is a permanent standard for sacred music (159)
  • beauty is musical, and the cosmos reflects this beauty (166)
  • "Humble submission to what goes before us releases authentic freedom and leads us to the true summit of our vocation as human beings." (170)

Part IV: Liturgical Form

Chapter 1 - Rite

  • "rite": the practical arrangements made by the community, in tame and space, for the basic type of worship received from God in faith (174)
  • individual rites have a relationship to the places where Christianity originated and the apostles preached (177)
  • rites are forms of apostolic tradition (178)
  • "With the radicalization of the historical-critical method, it has become very clear today that the sola scriptura principle cannot provide a foundation for the Church and the commonality of her faith." (181)
  • focus on tradition over creativity (182-183)

Chapter 2 - The Body and the Liturgy

Active Participation

  • oratio originally means not prayer but public speech (186)
  • God himself acts and does what is essential
  • there is only one action: looking together toward the Lord and going out to meet him (188)

The Sign of the Cross

I shall never forget the devotion and heartfelt care with which my father and mother made the sign of the Cross on the forehead, mouth, and breast of us children when we went away from home, especially when the parting was a long one. This blessing was like an escort that we knew would guide us on our way. It made visible the prayer of our parents, which went with us, and it gave us the assurance that this prayer was supported by the blessing of the Savior. The blessing was also a challenge to us not to go outside the sphere of this blessing. Blessing is a priestly gesture, and so in this sign of the Cross we felt the priesthood of parents, its special dignity and power. I believe that this blessing, which is a perfect expression of the common priesthood of the baptized, should come back in a much stronger way into our daily life and permeate it with the power of the love that comes from the Lord. ^b59826

1. Kneeling (prostratio)
- kneeling is characteristically Christian (199)
- the bodily gesture itself is the bearer of the spiritual meaning (204)
- the Christian liturgy is a cosmic liturgy precisely because it bends the knee before the crucified and exalted Lord (207)

  1. Standing and Sitting—Liturgy and Culture
  • kneeling lowers oneself, standing is toward the one who faces him, and sitting by looking into himself (211)
  • dancing is not a form of expression for the Christian liturgy (212)
  • "Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment." (212)
  • "Liturgy can only attract people when it loks, not at itself, but at God, when it allows him to enter and act." (213)
  • popular piety works together with liturgy (216)
  1. Gestures

  2. The Human Voice

  • in silence we touch the eternal (226)
  1. Vestments
  • as "tent" (232)
  1. Matter
  • "in the interplay of culture and history, history has priority. God has acted in history and, through history, given the gifts of the earth their significance" (238)

The Spirit of the Liturgy by Romano Guardini

(San Francisco: Ignatius, 1918/2018), 98

I'm glad they included the original that Ratzinger's more recent book was based off in this commemorative edition from Ignatius press. I was on the fence about whether to read it but am glad I did. The weight and beauty of tradition just pours forth from this little volume and makes you see the liturgy in a new light.

The Prayer of the Liturgy

  • the prayer of a corporate body must be sustained by thought and interwoven with dogma (280)
  • the liturgy is the "treasure-house of the thought of revelation" (280)
  • the heart must be guided, supported, and purified by the mind (280)
  • the liturgy is our teacher that condenses into prayer the entire body of religious truth (283)
  • Divine Office: model of all devotional practice (289)
  • on the pursuit of leisure and erudition for the purpose of prayer (289 footnote)
  • learning and culture is needed to keep a healthy spiritual life (294)

The Fellowship of the Liturgy

  • the individual is made aware of unity in the liturgy (298), but requires humility (300)

The Style of the Liturgy

  • genius: "immeasurably original and yet is still universally applicable to human life" (305)

The Symbolism of the Liturgy

  • symbol: when that which is interior and spiritual finds expression in that which is exterior and material (320)

The Playfulness of the Liturgy

  • Playfulness as purposelessness (327); something with no purpose has meaning (328)
  • the liturgy is an end in itself, existing not for us but for God (331)
  • we must learn to waste time for the sake of God (337)

The Seriousness of the Liturgy

  • both power and beauty can corrupt the liturgy if the sole focus (341)
  • truth is the soul of beauty (345), and those who aspire to beauty must first aspire to truth and good (347)

The Primacy of the Logos Over the Ethos

  • the liturgy is primarily occupied in forming the fundamental Christian temper (353)
  • any attempt to base the truth of a dogma merely on its practical value is essentially un-Catholic (359)
  • the basis of all genuine and healthy life is a contemplative one (362)

Topic: Theology, Liturgy

New words

  • thraldom: the state of being in bondage

Created: 2021-01-27
Updated: 2023-01-23-Mon